“The Avial Master”

This blog post comes from Radha Rayasam whose blog Radha Rayasam’s Home Made Sumptuous Meals reflects Rhada’s skill in the kitchen: “I’m a self taught cook, and I’ve always received flattering complements from everybody.” Thanks for the great post Rhada!  Be sure to check out the rest of the Apron Strings contest submissions and rate them. The lucky winners will receive gift certificates to shop at Fiesta Farms.


My dad gave me the recipe for this dish. I still remember the whole event.

I was getting ready to leave to school. I was sixteen years old. I had several strict rules in the house, like I could not go anywhere after 6:00 PM, no make up whatsoever, and I had to be accompanied by a family member to all of my freinds’ houses. I realized at that point of time that the world was very cruel outside the home, and my parents were trying to protect their precious princess, their only daughter!

I was in 12th grade, dressed in my all white churidhar, white canvas shoes, white ribbons braided in my long, oiled hair, tied next to my ears and looking like eggplants! The other girls in my class refused to tie those ribbons and let their hair loose. Letting my hair down was a big no-no in my home. So I had to wear those horrendous ribbons. The boys in my class called me saamiyar (the holy one who had renounced all worldly pleasures) and the girls in my class laughed at my title. I never cared, I just was busy in my own world. I had a best friend, and we both would giggle and talk about the latest movie songs featured on TV. You guessed it, we were not allowed to go to the theater to watch movies! We went as a family to watch old ‘golden’ movies that were supposed to instill good character in us!
Continue »

Making maple syrup with dad – Quebec Maple Syrup Pie

This Apron Strings contest submission comes from Aube Giroux, a documentary filmmaker and food blogger, won Saveur magazine’s Best Single Video about preparing rum babas for her late mother’s knitting club friends back in the Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia. (congrats Aube!)  This story has been condensed from an article she wrote for this year’s spring issue of Edible Toronto magazine – you can see accompanying photos and a video of my dad making maple syrup & me making maple syrup pie on my video cooking blog on the kitchenvignettes blog

Photo Credit: Aube Giroux

Last year I received a bottle of homemade maple syrup from my dad. For several years now, he has been tapping five large maple trees on his property just east of Montreal. He loves to brag about how energy efficient his process is since he evaporates the sap in big pots right on his woodstove, which is chugging away all winter regardless, heating up his whole house. He jokes that it’s the lazy way to do it, since the maple syrup basically makes itself. To get a litre of maple syrup, you need forty litres of sap, so it takes some time for that much water to evaporate, especially when you’re doing it the slow way, like my dad. Continue »

Made with Love: Granny’s Fried Chicken

Submitted by Chris Alward. Chris is Director of Market Development at Local Food Plus. That means he’s one of the people responsible for certifying food as local and sustainable food so consumers can make better choices.

This photo was taken the very day Chris’ Granny taught him to make fried chicken.

My mother moved to Eastern Canada from Louisiana in the early seventies and went from boiling crawfish to boiling lobster. Most years, we’d trek from New Brunswick to New Orleans and, after a long day in 3 or 4 airports, we’d wind up in the small southern town where my Granny lived. We’d usually spend a couple weeks fishing on the bayou, shooting fireworks, complaining about the heat, and being teased about our “ehs” and “aboots”.

But there was never any joking around when it came to food.

Granny’s house was where I complimented her pumpkin pie only to learn that I’d eaten sweet potatoes (which I refused to eat at the time), where I learned that a bowl of Butter Beans doesn’t contain any actual “butterbeans”, where I learned about fishing and hunting and respecting the animal (“If you ain’t gonna eat it, then don’t shoot it”, my uncles would preach). I learned about po’boys (aka subs) and crawfish and roux and gumbo and cast iron and cornbread. Those last two are inseparable, apparently. You can’t get a good crust without a good cornbread pan – it turns out all that cast iron pans are cornbread pans, and that these two go together like macaroni and cheese.

Continue »

Making and Breaking Bread with Grandma Boyd

This Apron Strings post was submitted By Mike Schreiner, Leader of the Green Party of Ontario. He’s also well known for his leadership in co-founding the award-winning organization Local Food Plus.


Also, please keep sending in your own stories and recipes. This project will continue long past Mother’s Day.

Wheat harvest on my parent’s farm was a time of hot, hard work and celebration.  Our extended family helped during those tense days of harvesting, hoping to get the crop in before a storm wreaked havoc on our hard work and income.

Most of our wheat was loaded onto one of my dad’s eighteen wheelers and shipped directly to the local co-op to be transported by train to distant markets.  Unlike his corn and soybeans, which dad sold to local feed mills for cattle, our wheat travelled far from home.

The one exception was the annual ritual of collecting bins of wheat berries for my Grandma Boyd, my mom’s mother.  Idabelle, my ten year old daughter Isabelle’s namesake, collected wheat each year from our harvest, in order to grind it into fresh flour for her famous breads, buns, and cinnamon rolls.  Thanksgiving and Christmas, in particular, would not be complete without a large assortment of her fresh baked goods celebrating the bounty of our harvest. Continue »

Zahra’s Zereshk Polo

This dish is not only delicious it’s beautiful. Zahra grids her Saffron in a coffee grinder before mixing it with water and pouring over the chicken. This makes the whole dish vibrant orange. When topped with the rice, decorated with pistachios and dried barberries, the Zereshk Polo looks like a work of art. While it feels like a shame to dig in, the taste is worth it. When Zahra served it to us, the delicately flavoured chicken was falling off the bone. Yum.


  • 500 grams of Basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1/2 of a chicken
  • 75 grams of cooking oil
  • 50 grams of butter
  • 50 grams of dried barberries (zereshk) (Other dried red berries like cranberries would work as well)
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Saffron
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Continue »